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  1. I'll be in Paris for three nights, August 9, 10, and 11. It may seem odd to be asking about this in May, but I know that some places take reservations months in advance. I also know that many restaurants take their annual vacations in August, so the choices could be limited. For instance, Le Meurice is a place I might have chosen, but they're on holiday from July 14 to August 27. I don't want 3 dinners of that type, but I'd certainly do one, along with a couple of other options at (say) the one- or two-star level, a mix of traditional and modern French cuisine. What would you recommend?
  2. Per Se is $295 per person, and that includes an implicit 20 percent service charge. Some people leave an additional tip on top of that, but there is no need to; 20 percent is standard in New York. Per Se's $295 is roughly comparable to a place that charges $245 without service. That's within hailing distance of the $225 price at Brooklyn Fare -- close enough that price is not likely to be the reason for choosing one over the other. Eleven Madison Park has a $125 dinner menu that includes four courses (plus amuses), so you can eat there for a lot less than Per Se. Even EMP's tasting menu, at $195, is a good deal less.
  3. Well, the chef's table at Brooklyn Fare is now $225 per person, which is not quite as high as Per Se, but it's getting there. Sushi Yasuda just got 3 stars (again) in The Times. I am a big fan of Soto, but it's quite different. You won't do badly at either one.
  4. To the contrary, the people drinking there seem exclusively to be non-NYC natives.
  5. If you find one, let me know. I spend a fair amount of time in that area and have never found anything comparable.
  6. I have to respectfully disagree with Sutton. It's telling that a lot of your list opened before 2011, and 2 of your 18 choices are now closed. Of those that DID open in 2011, the list is propped up by a sandwich place (Parm) and a pizzeria (Forcella). To pick the best item on your list (whichever you say it is) and compare it to 2004 is to show how far the industry has fallen since then.
  7. There may well be a better way of describing it. In many of his reviews, the food seemed secondary. If he didn't seem bored, it was because he had found something irrelevant that distracted him. What frequently bored him, in my opinion, was writing about the things he was paid to write about: restaurants and food.
  8. It is true, as noted upthread, that the majority of people who read the reviews will never visit the restaurants; and therefore, the reviews have a broader function than just giving dinner reservations advice. They certainly need to be well written; but that is true of everything The Times publishes. I mean, most people who read Ben Brantley's theater reviews or Anthony Tommasini's music reviews will never visit those shows/concerts. This is not a phenomenon that is unique to restaurants. But Brantley and Tommasini have been in their positions for over a decade and have years of experience in their respective fields. Frank Bruni had literally never been to a Michelin-starred restaurant in his life, outside of Italy, before being appointed restaurant critic. He is an excellent writer, but had no expertise in the subject. In no other discipline would The Times appoint a critic who had so little background in the field he was expected to pass judgment upon. Bruni was smart. Given five years and a six-figure annual dining budget, he eventually filled in the gaps in his knowledge, and he developed a reliable voice. To the end, he had some serious, even severe limitations, but at least you knew what they were, and could compensate for them when trying to decide whether to take his recommendations seriously. While it is true that many who read the reviews will never visit the restaurants, certainly some will. It is not sufficient to be a great writer if you do not understand the food, or cannot, or will not, describe the restaurant accurately. A restaurant review needs to be about the restaurant, not merely a sham for whatever unrelated bee the writer has in his bonnet that day. It is here that Sam Sifton went astray. When he was announced in the position, The Times said that he had been "drafted," and it also made clear that he would probably be moving back into management before long. From many of his reviews, you got the sense he wasn't interested in restaurants at all. It was here that he differed from Bruni, who, for all his faults, truly loves dining out. What came out of Sifton's reviews was no particular passion, but rather, mostly boredom. The man wanted to be somewhere else, and it showed. He jettisoned the job at the first opportunity.
  9. It's a bit like a sporting event: every possible outcome will have been forecasted by someone, who can then claim he knew it all along. What surprises me is not that it's Wells, but that it took them so long to pick him. When the hot rumor was the guy from New Orleans, you could understand the delay. He would have needed to wrap up his affairs down there, move to New York, and get acclimated to the new beat. But how long does it take to pick the guy right down the hall?
  10. Right; Asimov is probably the most qualified guy on the staff. He could have had the job, in a heartbeat, if he'd wanted it.
  11. The way I see it, if WD~50 is two stars, then so are about 10 or 20 others. That's not a knock against WD~50, which I love; just a reflection of where it stands vs. other excellent restaurants.
  12. Incidentally, the Eater piece forgot to mention that SHO Shaun Hergatt also earned a promotion to two stars. As much as I like WD~50, if it's two stars then a lot of other places are, as well. I've always considered the 1-star list reasonable, which is not the same as "correct". If you asked just about anyone to make up a list of similar length, there'd inevitably be a few you disagreed with. In aggregate, I consider it a pretty good list.
  13. If money is no object, and assuming you can get reservations, Le Bernardin would be my #1; either Adour or Corton as #2; SHO as #3. None of them are bad choices, though. Bear in mind that Adour, Corton, and Craft don't serve lunch. The others do. You should give Per Se a try; it isn't invariably booked solid, the way it used to be.
  14. One can only hope, but I agree it is not likely. After Ruth Reichl left in January 1999, the paper changed its approach considerably. Up to and including Reichl, most NYT restaurant critics (aside from a few with short tenures) were career-long food-writing professionals, of one kind or other. Starting with Grimes, the position was used as a kind of mid-career sabbatical, with the apparent intention that the position was temporary, and that the incumbent would eventually be doing something else altogether. When Reichl left the post, she went to Gourmet. When Grimes left, he started doing book reviews and obituaries.
  15. This is entirely true, but there are a few things Sifton could have done in spite of that. First, he could have called a spade a spade. A recession is no reason to write in praise of mediocrity, even if mediocrity is the best we have at the moment. Second, he could at least have distinguished excellence where it was available: Colicchio & Sons is better than SHO Shaun Hergatt?? I don't think so. And finally, he could have used his discretionary reviews (i.e., the reviews not compelled by external events) much more judiciously. I mean, did we really need to be told that Chin Chin is a one-star restaurant? Novita?? Palm and Palm Too???
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